My Badass Halmoni

I’ve always know my grandmother loves me. She loves feeding me (and my friends) and she never, ever let’s me do the dishes. But most of all she always, always, always talks to me as if I can understand exactly she says. This wouldn’t be abnormal, except for the fact that my 할머니 speaks only in Korean, and I have not always understood everything she says.

But the great thing about love is, it doesn’t need language to be understood. Without a doubt, I have always understood that she loves me.

Today I saw my grandmother’s love in action at its best.

I signed a contract for a new apartment in Seoul today. It was important to me to do as much of the house hunting on my own, in Korean. But when it came to signing the contract, I thought it would be a good idea to have someone there who could read it fluently just for assurance. To be honest, I probably could have signed the contract all on my own and been fine. I even told myself it would make a better story: “How I found my own apartment in a foreign country in a foreign language all by myself.” But that was before I saw my grandmother in her badass heroine outfit.

It took 할머니 more than an hour to cross town to meet me at the subway station where I was waiting with the realtor, who was incredibly patient to wait so long for my grandmother to arrive. I almost didn’t recognize her when she showed up.

She was wearing a pink skirt, a white shirt with a white lacy dress jacket, white shoes, and white pearls.  She had her makeup on and was carrying a nice little purse to complete the outfit.

I usually only see her at her home wearing her inside-the-home clothes, so I wasn’t used to seeing her so dolled up. I thought it was sweet of her to dress so fancy for me.

As soon as 할머니 met the realtor she started asking all the questions I would never have thought to ask, like “Does the water come out of the faucets well?”  How was I supposed to know to put that on the check list? Apparently I was supposed to go through all the sinks and check how well the water came out. Well, at least I know for next time.

I think the whole process was a bigger reassurance for my grandmother than for myself. She got to ask all her questions, and talk to the building owner, and see that his debt record is clean. Now she can rest assured I’m in a good place and no one is trying to rip me off. And I can rest assured that my new home has the 할머니 stamp of approval.

Later that evening, she confirmed my suspicion that she had gotten dressed up on purpose to put on a good impression to the realtors.

“You have to dress up nice so people don’t think you’re poor,” she explained. (I think she maybe have been implying my jeans and t-shirt were not giving off a high enough impression to people.)

But as soon as we got off the bus and were walking up the ally to her home she began telling me how much her clothes actually cost.

“Only 10, 000 won (about $10) for these shoes!” she told me. “The look pretty nice don’t they? I got them in Namdaemun.”

“Yeah. They look nice,” I agreed.

“Oh and this jacket, it’s more expensive because it’s sheer, so it’s cooler in the summer. I got it on sale for 30,000 won,” she continued.

“And this skirt, I made it myself out of a one piece I used to have in the 80s,” she said as she handed me the picture to prove it. Yup, it used to be a full 80s style one piece, and now it’s a skirt. I guess, now I know where my mom inherited her pride for finding the best sales.

I am grateful my grandmother put on her nicest outfit just to advocate for me. With her help, I succesfully finalized the contract for the new place and am moving in on Friday! One step closer to the kick off of The Unplanning Project!

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2 thoughts on “My Badass Halmoni

  1. Halmoni is a power house!

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